White House and State Department officials said Monday they’re open to proposals by Russia to put Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons under international control, but that such talk is no reason for the U.S. to back away from President Barack Obama’s threat of a military strike.Politico: U.S. open to Russian chemical weapons proposal
“We’d have to take a hard look. Any transfer of chemical weapons to international control would be a positive development,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in an interview on MSNBC. “We’ve been highly skeptical to date. They have not even declared their chemical weapons stockpiles.”
Rhodes said the U.S. would “follow up” with the Russians on the point “to discuss the seriousness of the proposal,” but he noted that Russia has a record of defending the regime in Damascus.
A State Department spokeswoman made similar comments in what appeared to be a coordinated administration response to the Russian suggestion.
“This proposal…is only taking pace in that context [of] the threat of military action,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “The Russians for months and years have stood up for the Syrian regime at the United Nations.”
Harf said, however, that the U.S. would welcome the Syrian regime giving up its chemical weapons. “ Clearly, we think that would be a positive step for the Syrian people, for the region, for the whole international community,” she said.
This is a positive statement. They are open. They may not trust, but at least negotiations will have a chance.